The beginning of every year gives us time to pause and reflect on where we have been and where we are going. Some people make resolutions; others feel that if they make them, they will break them, so why bother! It is good at times to look at what has and has not worked in the past so we donâ€™t repeat the same mistakes. Itâ€™s also good to have a future point to keep in sight so that our path remains straight. The Lord reminds us to â€œConsider your ways!â€ in Haggai 1:5. This year one â€˜way to considerâ€™ is the art of giving and receiving.
A short time ago I was dealing with health issues that kept me from working and financially, things were tight. I received a gift card for a grocery store from an anonymous friend. It was the perfect gift at the perfect time and I have a good idea who the giver was. Of course, IÂ couldn’tÂ thank them in person as IÂ wasn’tÂ supposed to know their identity. So if you are reading this, â€œThank YOU!â€ That friend knew exactly what was needed because they had been in the same situation themselves. Good givers are people who have empathy toward their recipients and give what is best for that person.
This year, I want to determine to be a good giver. The best givers of course know that itÂ doesn’tÂ always mean material goods. In fact, the most appreciated gifts are often the intangible ones.Â I’mÂ asking the Lord to show me who needs a word of appreciation, a note of encouragement, an email of truth-spoken-in-love, a text of compassion, or even a Facebook comment that says, â€œYou are awesome!â€
Other ways of giving are all around us. There are strangers who need a smile as you walk by, needy people who need that extra change in your pocket and not your condemnation, or the downtown mission that could use an extra hand serving a meal. Consider giving your pastor a mention during your daily prayer time, passing a word of advice to someone who asks for it, or just listening to a coworker who needs to talk to someone.
There are so many ways to give and in these ways we are also living a life that says to our Heavenly Father, â€œThank You for Your gift to me!â€ I want to be more aware of those around me to know what I can give to them and more willing to listen to the needs of others so that my gifts are what they need, not just what I think they need.
Along with being a better giver, I want to be a better receiver this year. I confess Iâ€™m not very good at â€˜gettingâ€™. I want to give more than I get and I feel indebted when receiving something I cannot repay. As a Christian that seems ridiculous, as we have accepted the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, something we donâ€™t deserve and could never begin to repay. I know itâ€™s a pride issue. And I know many of you reading this probably feel the same about receiving. You may not think of it as an ego thing, but trust me â€“ it is.
Part of receiving is recognizing that there is an area where you are lacking. Sometimes that is very obvious, especially if the bills are coming in and the bank account is running low. At other times, we may not even know when there are areas in our lives that we could benefit from the help of others. I may not even aware of how much I need a pat on the back until someone tells me how much I am appreciated or that I did a good job. It is at that time thatÂ I’mÂ reminded there are others who may need a similar word from me.
Whether it is my pride that keeps me from admitting a lack in my life or selfishness that keeps me from being aware of otherâ€™s needs,Â I’mÂ praying that this year will be a time of growth for me in this area. If we all became better givers and receivers, it would certainly make the world a better place. And I think it would please the heart of the greatest Giver of all, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Photo courtesy:Â IMAGE SOURCE PAGE:Â http://joyerickson.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/asking-for-gifts/